Cash-crop farming is the principal type of farm economy in South Carolina. This system, which emphasizes the production of crops for cash sale rather than general farming and livestock production, evolved from the state’s oldtime cotton-plantation economy. Cotton, which is one of the state’s main cash crops, is grown widely in the Inner Coastal Plain, but most farmers protect themselves against low cotton prices or failure of this crop by growing soybeans, corn, and other crops for sale. In sections of the Piedmont, many former cotton fields are now pasturelands used for grazing, or have been planted into forests.
Most farmers in South Carolina own their own land, and the former institutions of tenancy and sharecropping have virtually disappeared.
These farming practices developed at the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865), when many of the black freedmen in South Carolina and the rest of the South found themselves landless and without means of support and many former slaveowning landlords were without farmhands to raise and cultivate the cotton. However, the number of tenant farmers and sharecroppers decreased greatly as social and economic conditions improved in the last half of the 20th century. A new type of tenancy, the part-owner, has become an increasingly common aspect of the farming landscape. Prompted by mechanization and the desire to bring additional land into cultivation, a farmer leases unused land from others to create a larger and more cost-effective farming unit.
Frequently, these additional lands are at some distance from each other, creating fragmented farms.
Shellfish such as shrimp, crab, oysters, and clams make up the most important component of South Carolina’s ocean catch. Some freshwater finfish, including eel and catfish, are also sold commercially. In 2007 South Carolina’s fish catch was valued at $15.6 million.
Nearly all of the forest in South Carolina is commercially productive. Forests cover 66 percent of the state. Softwood trees, especially the shortleaf, longleaf, slash, and loblolly pines, are the principal commercial trees. They are used mainly for lumber and for making wood pulp and paper. Hardwoods such as oak, walnut, and maple, which comprise a much smaller area, are cut for use in the furniture industry. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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